From wellness spas to grocery stores, and even gas stations, CBD products are not hard to find. And like many other commonplace products, it’s easy to take for granted the complexity of custom CBD manufacturing. Manufacturers follow a deliberate and delicate process that depends heavily on the skill of multiple technicians. And only one misstep in the process can result in a subtherapeutic product.
Let’s take a look at each step of the CBD manufacturing process, from plant to product, to understand better how this popular supplement is created.
1.Sourcing of High CBD Hemp
Of the several varieties of the hemp plant, the Cannabis Sativa flower is the highest in CBD content and lowest in THC. It’s typically cultivated at specialized farms indoors or out. Once harvested, hemp is then tested for quality and, later, assuming it passes inspection, moves on to the next stage in processing.
The high CBD hemp plants are ground down in a process that turns the hemp plants into smaller particles with a greater surface area. By making the material more granular, technicians can later achieve greater efficiency in hemp oil extraction.
3.Hemp Oil Extraction
The ground hemp is fed into an extraction machine, which uses C02 to separate cannabinoid and terpene extracts. The result of this phase is an oil-like substance commonly referred to a raw crude.
After the extraction process, raw crude still contains pigments from the hemp plant and waxes. To remove the wax, technicians add food-grade ethanol to the mixture as a solvent. Then, the mixture is frozen, causing the waxes to detach from the crude. This process is called “wintering.”
5.Hemp Oil Filtration
A filtration system removes the wax creating a more potent hemp solution. Depending on the workability of the current solution, a variety of methods are used, including gravity, vacuum, and pour-through filtration. The goal of the process is for the mixture to pass through a .2 micron filter. The solution then must be tested for the presence of wax, and the entire process is repeated for 2 to 5 days until a technician deems it viable to move on.
Once waxes and other impurities are no longer in the hemp, the solvent is no longer needed. The most common way to remove it is by using a machine called a rotary evaporator. By controlling for exact temperatures, the evaporator slowly vacuums the solvent out of the solution.
7.Distillation / Isolation
After removing the solvents, CBD technicians purify the solution further. One way to do this is via distillation, which forces out impurities and retains essential ingredients like terpenes and the cannabinoids themselves. Short path distillation is the most delicate method used, but it can yield the highest results. Depending on the skill of the technician, machinery involved, and quality of the crop, the result can be 70% to 95% cannabinoids.
Another popular CBD purification method is isolation, which employs a process known as chromatography. It entails moving the CBD particles within a solvent, using a centrifuge or similar device, forcing them to separate from impurities. The resulting product is crystals of nearly pure CBD.
At this point in the process, exact doses of CBD are calculated, added to formulations, and tested for potency. The purified CBD, it’s then mixed into a variety of food-grade delivery devices like oils, capsules, vape cartridges, and edibles.
9.Labeling and Packaging
Once the formulation is ready, it can then be packaged and labeled for consumption. However, before use, a label must be reviewed to make sure it conveys accurate information and doesn’t make false claims. Also, everything from the product bottles to packing materials must all be of food-grade quality.
10.Final Product Testing
All manufacturer and private label CBD products require testing for potency and toxins according to state and federal laws. All products are held in quarantine until they pass all tests.
11.Warehousing and Distribution
When awaiting shipment to retailers and distributors, all CBD products require storage in secure, temperature-controlled facilities. All batches are labeled for traceability back to their original date and location of manufacture.
Upon receiving CBD products, distributors follow the FIFO (first in first out) practice to prevent the expiration of lots before they reach retailers.
As you can see, the journey of CBD from the crop to the store shelf is nothing trivial. The best manufacturers follow a detailed and thorough process. Beware, as regulations for CBD production come into place, not every producer is following all of the crucial steps we’ve outlined. You can protect yourself by checking the label of any CBD product for traceability and inquiring into how the product was made.